Rhetoric in Law and Politics
166 001 | Session C | CCN: 15391
Between the Street and the Gavel: How Law & Social Movements Change One Another
Date / Time: Tu/Th 4:00pm - 6:59pm
Conflict manifests in many forms, but one of the most prominent in the United States is through legal struggle. In this course, you will examine the fascinating manner in which social movements have sought to use, change, or preserve governing legal rules to achieve their political ends. But the inverse is also true: the reigning legal and political orders often influence how social demands are (and perhaps can be) articulated.
We will consider and discuss several contemporary political debates and hot-button issues, including but not limited to Antitrust Law, Race, Sexuality, Gun Control, Academic Freedom and Freedom of Speech, and National Security. In particular, we will approach these debates by seeking to understand historical developments in each field, focusing on the way actors have envisioned and pursued change over time, and change’s political consequences.
This course will not focus on the abstract, but rather concrete issues of practical importance. Your project for the semester will be to apply what you have learned from readings and class discussions to develop a blueprint for change (or against it) on an issue of your choosing and of interest to you. You will research and explain the issue, map out the current legal and political regime and relevant actors, explain (with research and citation) the problems you perceive with the status quo (or with threatened changes to the status quo), and propose a pathway for change (or against it), including concrete steps in relation to specific institutions.
Students from diverse backgrounds, fields of study, and intellectual traditions are encouraged to consider enlisting in this course, which will be guided by a practicing lawyer. Students who are interested in politics, law, activism, or who otherwise are interested in having a real-world impact, may find the course particularly edifying.